Launch Slideshow

Porchscapes, Fayetteville, Ark.

Facing environmental site constraints, the University of Arkansas Community Design Center married the needs of affordable housing with green strategies.

Porchscapes, Fayetteville, Ark.

Facing environmental site constraints, the University of Arkansas Community Design Center married the needs of affordable housing with green strategies.

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    The 43 units of four types cluster around communal spaces in a density greater than that of the surrounding areas. The communal spaces serve double duty: encouraging interaction while acting as an extensive water-management system.

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    Runoff from this and the neighboring site is managed by filtering the water through layers of gravel, soil, and filter fabric, returning clean water to the ground and dispersing the water over the acreage.

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    The complex is designed to encourage social interaction. Every unit has a porch that's intended to draw residents out of doors, and features such as athletic fields and community gardens promise to foster a spirit of engagement that many planned communities lack.

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    The public areas include the North Shared Street Plaza.

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    Mews Court: One of the public areas that serve as sub-watersheds and incorporate bioswales and other landscaping that contributes to the stormwater-management system.

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    The South Shared Street Plaza. It was not only the planning of the plazas that garnered praise; the buildings themselves intrigued the jury. "It seems to me that Habitat for Humanity has evolved into something more interesting than it used to be," Lars Lerup said. "These buildings seem more innovative than those normally associated with the program. There is so little innovation in suburbia that this is quite exciting."

Site
An 8.8-acre site south of Fayetteville bordered by drainage easements, a floodplain, and wetlands.

Program
Forty-three affordable housing units based on four prototypes (ranging from 1,150 to 1,250 square feet) that comply with Habitat for Humanity guidelines for size and construction.

Solution
Facing environmental site constraints, including unique ecologies that have developed due to the water runoff that passes through the site from 220 adjacent acres, the University of Arkansas Community Design Center had little choice but to marry the needs of affordable housing with green strategies. The housing project, called Porchscapes, is designed as a case study of low-impact development for stormwater management as well as a pilot for LEED for Neighborhood Development. Single-story, three- or four-bedroom single-family homes—with an option for multifamily configurations as well—are clustered with greater-than-average density around common areas that foster community. A series of porches engages the landscape and extends private living space into the public realm. "It is an extremely interesting rethinking of the suburban cul-de-sac," Henry Urbach said. "Multiple kinds of new collective spaces link people within their homes, through different layers of engagement with one another, and with the landscape."

In place of standard road materials, the street system incorporates pervious paving. Combined with a soft-engineered system of bioswales and rainwater gardens in the surrounding lansdcaping, this infrastructure manages and filters water before returning it to the ground. "This project takes the water use of that particular area—all the runoff from the roofs, all the surfaces for walking and parking—and it lets that water permeate into the earth and cleans it through a system of landscaping elements," Georgeen Theodore said. "So it's not only rethinking the density and the clustering of the houses in suburbia, but it's also taking this environmental approach to wastewater."

56th Annual P/A Awards


Project Credits
Project: Porchscapes, Fayetteville, Ark.
Client: Habitat for Humanity of Washington County—Wendi Jones (executive director); Patsy Brewer (past executive director); Tommy Lewis, President; JR Ball, John Nock, Parice Bowser, Barnes Parsons, Jim Culberson, Ellen Roberts, Brent Farmer, Susan Slinkard, Mike Johnson, Jess Smith, Jan Judy, Joel Tittel, Doug Kuntz, Mike Wallner, Scott McNair, Lisa Whitaker (Board of Trustees)
Architect: University of Arkansas Community Design Center—Stephen Luoni (director); Aaron Gabriel (assistant director); Katie Breshears, Cade J. Jacobs, Jeffrey Huber, Peter Bednar, Aaron Gist, Laura Chioldi (project designers); Deborah Guzman, Jody L. Verser (student interns)
University of Arkansas School of Architecture—Jeff Shannon (dean); Tim de Noble (department head); Clint Bailey, Jason Oury, William Britt, Greg Stellmon, Landon Foster, Keith Wheeler, Jeremy Johnson, Russell Worley (students)
Ecological Engineering Consultant: University of Arkansas Ecological Engineering Group—Marty Matlock, Eric Cummings; Rusty Tate, Heather Sandefur, David Gershner, Zara Clayton-Niederman, Jeff Burns, Vicky Zeledon, Maggie Strain, Kyle Kruger (Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering students)
Civil Engineering Consultant: McClelland Consulting—Chris Suneson, Wayne Jones
City of Fayetteville: Dan Coody (Mayor)
Project Design Sponsors: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region VI; Arkansas Natural Resource Commission—Tony Ramick (supervisor, Non Point Source Pollution Section); University of Arkansas Women's Giving Circle